1. Florida Politics
  2. /
  3. The Buzz

Andrew Gillum rebuked by ethics panel for ‘less than credibly reasonable judgment’

“The problem here is Mr. Gillum did not ask anybody who paid for anything,” said an attorney for the ethics commission.
Photos of Gillum's trip in NYC. Andrew Gillum, Adam Corey Undercover FBI agents were the ones who gave Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum a ticket to the Broadway show Hamilton during a trip to New York City in 2016, according to a trove of records given to the ethics commission and released to the public today. Text messages between Gillum and former lobbyist Adam Corey, who arranged outings with undercover agents looking into city corruption, were among more than 100 pages of records Corey gave the ethics commission, which is investigating trips to Costa Rica and New York that Gillum took in 2016. Corey's lawyer, Chris Kise, released the records today, just two weeks before the election, because the state ethics commission issued a subpoena for the records just last week.
Published Jan. 30
Updated Jan. 30

TALLAHASSEE — Former Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum “should have known better” than to take a trip to Costa Rica with a lobbyist and his clients, a prosecutor for Florida’s ethics commission told commissioners in a scathing report last week.

In recommending commissioners pursue ethics allegations against the former Democratic nominee for governor, Elizabeth Miller said Gillum accepted hundreds of dollars' worth of airfare, tickets to the Broadway show Hamilton, and food — including a birthday cake for his wife — without reporting them.

And neither Miller nor commissioners said they believed Gillum’s excuse, which he repeated during the campaign, that he was naive and too trusting of his one-time friend, former lobbyist Adam Corey.

“The problem here is Mr. Gillum did not ask anybody who paid for anything,” said Miller, who’s known as an “advocate” for the ethics commission. “He did not ask anybody, ‘Who do I reimburse? How much did this cost?’ We’re talking about the Hamilton tickets, we’re talking about the boat ride. We’re talking about the cake — the birthday cake for his wife — we’re talking about the local air transportation for $292 that he had a lobbyist make for him and his wife to get from point A to point B.”

Miller implied that Gillum was intentionally ignorant.

“The point is,” she said, “he never intended to know what was paid for, (or) who paid for it, because he wasn’t going to report it if it was a gift.”

Criticism over Gillum’s cozy ties with Corey and his clients — two of whom happened to be undercover FBI agents investigating Tallahassee corruption — dogged the final months of Gillum’s historic run for governor.

And the allegations could continue to haunt Gillum as he positions himself for a potential run for president in 2020.

On Wednesday, the commission released a recording of Friday’s meeting, along with hundreds of pages of records and hours of interviews with Gillum and others — a day after CNN announced that Gillum would be the network’s newest political commentator.

The commission voted unanimously that there was probable cause that Gillum broke ethics rules, but several commissioners lamented having to cast their vote.

Commissioner Daniel Brady, who said he voted for Gillum, called it “as unpleasant a vote as I’ve taken in my 2 1/2, 3 years on the commission.”

“It is very clear to me that Mr. Gillum exercised less than credibly reasonable judgment,” he said. “What is it? You sleep with dogs with fleas, you’re going to get bit? And he should have had, at least in my opinion, some understanding that these people weren’t his close personal friends because they thought he was a wonderful man.”

He added, “I think a person who gets 4 million votes to be elected to the governor of Florida, even though he lost, does not reflect well on our democratic processes and our ability to scrutinize candidates.”

Gillum’s case will now go before an administrative law judge in a public hearing that has yet to be scheduled. He could face fines for each of the five violations.

Commissioners last week were also sympathetic to the argument from Gillum’s lawyer, however, who noted that most of the evidence in the case is coming from Adam Corey, a one-time friend who had a falling out as Gillum began his campaign for governor.

Corey submitted an affidavit claiming that Gillum never reimbursed him for the Hamilton ticket, lodging in Costa Rica, or anything else.

But Corey refused to be interviewed by ethics investigators, claiming through his lawyer that he was issued a federal grand jury subpoena. Gillum, on the other hand, was interviewed twice.

“I just think it’s not right to find probable cause when you have that kind of a circumstance,” Attorney Barry Richard said. “You’re inviting anybody to say anything, and then say, ‘Sorry, I’m not going to answer questions.’”

But Richard struggled to convince commissioners that Gillum did not receive favors from Corey.

Records from Corey’s accounting firm showed that he took Gillum to lunch upon arriving in Costa Rica for a weeklong trip in 2016, labeling the $98 expense as “lunch with Mayor Gillum to discuss city issues.”

Richard argued that Gillum never attended the lunch, and he said that Corey said the trip was work-related so that he could deduct it from his business’ expenses.

As for the Hamilton ticket, Gillum reiterated to investigators that he met his brother, Corey and two of Corey’s clients, who were undercover FBI agents, outside the theater, where his brother handed him a ticket.

Gillum’s brother told ethics investigators that he exchanged the tickets with Corey for five tickets to a Jay-Z concert, but when asked by investigators for proof that he bought the tickets, Marcus Gillum didn’t provide it.

Andrew Gillum told investigators that he never asked his brother who paid for the ticket, and was eventually told by a lawyer not to ask his brother about it.

“I had retained counsel on another matter, and it was basically their advice like, ‘You don’t need to know anything you don’t know at this point,’” Gillum said.

Miller told commissioners, however, that there was “much more evidence” that they had not yet heard about, and that she intended to subpoena Marcus Gillum’s records if they found probable cause.

“If we get to a hearing, all of that evidence will come out,” she said.


  1. AP file photo of then Gov. and now U.S. Sen. Rick Scott
    DeSantis, Rick Scott and other Republicans have taken a strong stance on Saudi Arabia in recent days. President Donald Trump?
  2. Donald Trump speaks during the Israeli-American Council’s annual summit at The Diplomat Resort & Hotel in Hollywood, Florida on Saturday, December 7, 2019. DANIEL A. VARELA  |  Miami Herald
    The president helps the Republican Party of Florida raise millions and speaks at a national conference on Israeli-American relations.
  3. President Donald J.Trump waves to supporters as he steps out of the Air Force One at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport to attend the Republican Party of Florida's Statesman's Dinner at the  JW Marriott Miami Turnberry Resort & Spa and later to the Israeli-American Council Summit 2019 on Saturday. PEDRO PORTAL  |  Miami Herald
    The state party raised $3.5 million at the dinner where the president spoke.
  4. Donald Trump walks with his wife, Melania, after speaking to the press at the Ritz-Carlton August 26, 2012 in Sarasota, Florida. Trump accepted the Statesman of the Year Award at the Sarasota GOP dinner ahead of the Republican Nation Convention in Tampa. (Photo by Edward Linsmier/Getty Images) 150868157 EDWARD LINSMIER  |  Getty Images
    Trump couldn’t get prime stage time at the Republican National Convention in Tampa. So he and the Sarasota Republican Party staged their own event the night before. What happened next changed history.
  5. Paul Congemi, 62, filed paperwork this week for his fourth St. Petersburg mayoral bid. Last election he earned 188 votes. EVE EDELHEIT  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The 2021 primary election is 628 days away.
  6. Mayor Rick Kriseman on Wednesday said he will not allow the Tampa Bay Rays to explore splitting their season between the Tampa Bay area and Montreal prior to the 2027 expiration of the team's lease of Tropicana Field. CHRIS URSO  |  Times
    Politicians on both sides of the bay weigh in on St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman’s decision to cease talks with the team.
  7. U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, R-Fla., speaks during a news conference about the Zika virus, Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2016 in Doral, Fla.The CDC has advised pregnant women to avoid travel to the Miami neighborhood of Wynwood where mosquitoes are apparently transmitting Zika directly to humans. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
    Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio said he wants to meet with Interior Department officials before green-lighting Katharine MacGregor as the second-highest Interior Department official.
  8. Transgender student Drew Adams speaks with reporters outside of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta. Adam's fight over school restrooms came before a federal appeals court Thursday, setting the stage for a groundbreaking ruling. Adams, who has since graduated from Nease High in Ponte Vedra, Fla., won a lower court ruling last year ordering the St. Johns County school district to allow him to use the boys' restroom. The district has since appealed. RON HARRIS  |  AP
    The closely watched case of Drew Adams, once a high school student in Florida, is heard by a three-judge panel in Atlanta.
  9. An example of the type of white railway markings the Florida Department of Transportation plans on installing on the either side of more than 4,000 railway crossings in the state. Florida Department of Transportation
    The department will paint new markings on more than 4,000 railway crossings in the state.
  10. Previous competitions did not round up a lot of the invasive snakes